Strange benefits become problems

Oil, oil everywhere and not a place to put it. That is the state of the coming problem analysts see headed for us. Well, there could be worse problems to have.

According to a writer for Motley Fool, they have a prediction for gas prices this summer you might not dislike.

Why Gas Could Plunge Below $2 a Gallon This Summer

Rising oil inventories in the U.S. could lead to sharply lower prices at the pump this summer.

Travis Hoium Mar 26th 2015 | Daily Finance

The price of gasoline has plunged 30 percent in the past year to $2.45 a gallon nationwide, giving major relief to American consumers. Plunging oil prices have driven the drop and have given a reprieve to consumers who have been paying nearly $4 a gallon for gas for most of the past four years.
But the discount on gasoline may not be over. Just as the summer driving season approaches, drivers may get another reprieve. This time, the oil boom that is driving the U.S. toward energy independence could backfire and provide a massive discount on gas for consumers. Within a few months, we may be below $2 a gallon again.

Read more at Daily Finance>

So we are in for a summer of surprise, that at least has more credibility than Obama’s summer of recovery that never came. But I’m sure Obama will find a way to personalize this to his credit, at the same time warning of Climate Change Armageddon.

Death of a price point

Now with the death of Saudi King Abdullah, the flurries of questions began. What about the oil market, prices in particular, and what effect new leadership will mean for oil?

Well, complex answers don’t stop reporters from asking, except maybe in the case of Obama. The go to man is apparently Prince Alwaleed. He gave a robust defense of supply and demand, then shocked probably even OPEC countries by declaring we will never see triple digit oil again. In fact, he said we will never see hundred-dollar oil prices again.

See CNBC for video and article: http://www.cnbc.com/id/102363511

“I can assure you that Saudi Arabia is not using the oil price right now to impact the fracking industry in the United States,” he said, adding that “there’s an oversupply and demand is not so high.”

He insists there will be little change on current oil policy from a King Salaman government. He does have a grasp of understanding about the subject. It’s obviously true the current prices do hurt the Kingdom. It also hurts other oil-dependent countries. But his point was if they cut production that “gap” would only be filled by some other country. And it would. So it seems their production level alone is not running the market. The dynamics indeed have shifted since the US began producing more.

Now there’s one voice on the record publicly declaring the death of triple digit oil. That in itself should be a big deal. So stick a fork in hundred-dollar oil?

Oil illusions and/or delusions – pt 2

(Part 2)
What is interesting is that for years we heard the Mid East production level adjustments, such as OPEC’s or Saudis’, had little to do with the price we were paying for refined goods. When we complained in general about high oil prices, we were told their decisions and production had really no effect on overall prices. We are always reminded that supply and demand are driving those prices. It’s the hidden hand of the economy.

But now we have a situation where Saudis are actively flooding the market with their oil to drive oil prices down, which makes it hard for others to do business. So are they now admitting Saudis’ production control has an effect on prices? Yes, they are. Flashback to all those times we were told it was only consumer demand, no foul. We were imagining things. Remember, they said the free market was setting those prices. Which is it?

Apparently, someone woke them up and told them the power they have over oil prices. Who let that out of the bag? Do you think it took them all these years to realize it? And took our domestic fracking ability and development to show them? Anyway, now they know the dirty little secret and are using it against us to curb our ability to produce.

Here is a newer article examining the issue that Saudis are at war with our domestic production. He compares this reaction to the subprime bubble, and presumably meltdown, as the perfect analogy.

As soon as oil’s price headed in the undesired direction in this highly leveraged market, the dreams evaporated, just as they did in the highly leveraged housing market. The debt of the most indebted producers, now losing money, is worth less than face value. Their creditors will eventually recognize losses. As previously noted, the one wrinkle is that so many producers are governments. They have not, in most cases, explicitly backed their debt with oil revenues, but they had assumed those revenues and based their future spending plans on them. Call it “soft” debt. — Robert Gore; straightlinelogic

Long ago I figured if Saudis’ had real fear about Iran, they could put pressure on the market and oil prices, which Iran is dependent on. This would have the effect of sanctions. Maybe this is what they did, or maybe they are only reacting to us? If we listen to these economists, Saudis are responding namely to us.

I admit having a bias that I prefer to buy gas below 3.00 to paying about 4.00 per/gallon. (or at 2.00) At 4.00 per/gallon, the fracking is more profitable. So am I supposed to be happy knowing they are producing and growing, and just pay 4 dollars and shut up?

I realize how much high prices affect the whole economy. So that works in favor of my bias for lower prices. Am I to say: our economy is sputtering and people can’t afford the high costs… but at least we are producing more oil, thank goodness? I’m not there yet.

On the other hand, should I worry prices will decline so far the market will collapse to where no drilling is profitable? Well, I already heard one person put it this way: ‘you have to produce something before it is consumed.’ IOW, oil must be profitable to be produced, so we can consume it — in all its forms. If it is not, we will not have it available.

But in that case, prices would go up due to lacking supply, per supply and demand.

Here is an interesting article about the scoreboard

Biggest Winners and Losers of International Oil Price Crash

By Isaac Arnsdorf Dec 4, 2014 | Bloomberg

Oil prices around the world have fallen more than 38 percent since the year’s high in June.

Among the winners are airlines, which are saving on fuel and not reducing fares for customers. Bank of America Corp. predicts earnings will gain 73 percent in 2015.

Saudi Arabia flexed its muscle at November’s OPEC meeting by overruling other members, showing that it’s still the dominant producer. The desert kingdom needs oil at $83.60 a barrel to balance its budget, according to the International Monetary Fund, but it’s got $736 billion in reserves.

Apollo Global Management LLC, the New York buyout firm run by billionaire Leon Black, announced the sale of shale driller Athlon Energy Inc. on Sept. 29 — before oil dropped 29 percent.

More on Bloomberg

See the list of winners and losers. Saudis need 83.60 and currently it is below that, though they have substantial revenues.(they should) Iran needs 117. And we know that OPEC members cheat on quotas anyway. They probably want to sell what they can even at a lower price. But I don’t see articles about the negative effects to them.

I know it’s a complex issue. Yes, lower prices are hurting the producers, like fracking and development. It is in Saudis interest that we decrease our production.I understand the price declines are undermining fracking. Hey, there’s an angle for the enviro-gurus. They should favor lower prices. Though judging market effects as either good or bad is tougher. And motives can be almost as hard.

[My past article]

RightRing | Bullright

UAE Oil Minister Says Oil Prices Are Not a Threat to Global Economy

Published May 27, 2013 – Fox Business

Crude oil prices are at a fair level and aren’t posing a risk to the global economy, United Arab Emirates’ new energy minister said in remarks published Monday, signaling a consensus among OPEC members over prices.

“From the producers” point of view, the current price level continues to be an incentive for the ongoing investments that are necessary to increase oil production capacity,” Suhail Al Mazrouei told the state-run news agency Wam. “As for consumers, this level does not adversely affect economic recovery and the prospects of growth in the future.”

However, OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia may have to persuade other members of the group to cut output to keep oil prices above $100 a barrel for the rest of the year, the kingdom largest unlisted lender National Commercial Bank said in a note.

Read more: http://www.foxbusiness.com/news/2013/05/27/uae-oil-minister-says-oil-prices-are-not-threat-to-global-economy/#ixzz2UbL2x4wa

So if the UAE oil minister claims prices have no ill-effect on economies, and gas and oil prices are in line, then why do so many Arab countries subsidize their domestic energy? Why don’t they follow their talk and allow market prices on their domestic energy? Let’s see if that has any negative effects on their economy?

Research paper:
“Arab Human Development Report”- by Bassam Fattouh and Laura El-Katiri

The policy of maintaining tight control of domestic energy prices has characterized the political and economic environment in most Arab countries, together with many other parts of the world, for decades. The objectives behind such a policy range from overall welfare objectives such as expanding energy access and protecting poor households’ incomes; to economic development objectives such as fostering industrial growth and smoothing domestic consumption; and to political considerations, including the distribution of oil and natural gas rents in resource-rich countries.

Energy subsidies distort price signals, with serious implications on efficiency and the optimal allocation of resources. Energy subsidies also tend to be regressive, with high-income households and industries benefiting proportionately most from low energy prices. However, despite such adverse effects, energy subsidies constitute an important social safety net for the poor in many parts of the Arab world, and any attempts to reduce or eliminate them in the absence of compensatory programmes would lead to a decline in households’ welfare and erode the competitiveness of certain industries.

Anyone want to take bets on what effects it would have on their economies and growth?